Friday, May 18, 2018

Friday Post

Just terrible:

Former Texas student Dimitrios Pagourtzis, 17, is being held on a capital murder charge after he  fatally shot ten and wounded ten others at a Texas high school, the deadliest shooting since the Parkland massacre. 

Galveston County Sheriff Henry Trochesset says in a statement that the student, Dimitrios Pagourtzis, is being held without bond in the Galveston County jail.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott called the shooting “one of the most heinous attacks that we’ve ever seen in the history of Texas schools.”

Explosive devices had also been found, including a molotov cocktail in the suspected shooter’s home and a vehicle around the school and nearby, he adds. 

The governor says the suspect said he originally intended to commit suicide but gave himself up and told authorities that he didn’t have the courage to take his own life.

China denies that President Xi, who invited Kim Jong-Un to China before the summit began, had a hand in the summit's imminent dissolution:

China dismissed U.S. President Trump's assertion Friday that President Xi Jinping might be behind North Korea's sudden shift to a recalcitrant attitude.

Following a weeks-long peace offensive, the North has changed its tack. It called off scheduled high-level talks with South Korea earlier this week and threatened to reconsider the plan to hold summit talks with the U.S. in Singapore next month.

Pyongyang cited the ongoing South Korea-U.S. joint air combat drills and denuclearization-related comments, especially by Trump's national security advisor John Bolton.

Speaking to reporters at the White House, Trump said Xi "could be influencing" the North's leader, Kim Jong-un.

Xi and Kim have met twice recently, a show of improved ties between the communist allies that share a border.

The U.S. has long stressed the importance of China's role in coaxing Pyongyang into changing its course.

But ... but ... we're doing so well!:

The Canadian dollar sank versus the greenback Friday on the back of weak economic data and after trade negotiators missed House Speaker Paul Ryan's deadline for a new NAFTA deal. 

The loonie was down 0.84% to 1.2910 per US dollar at 10:07 a.m. ET.

The country's retail sales jumped the most in five months in March, Statistics Canada data showed Friday, but the rise was driven by auto sales. Without the auto sector, retail sales actually dropped 0.2%.

On top of that, inflation numbers were mostly below or in-line with estimates. Prices rose at a 2.2% year-over-year clip, missing the 2.3% print that economists had predicted. While still above the Bank of Canada's target rate of 2%, the lower-than-anticipated rate raised expectations the central bank will hold rates steady this month. 


According to BNN Bloomberg, Dan McTeague from “expects gas price increases to continue for 2018, and that consumers could take a hit of $500 to $1,000 per year.”


Motorists in many parts of Canada are expected to see rising gasoline prices as they fire up their vehicles for road adventures on the Victoria Day long weekend.

But fuel market analyst Dan McTeague of says price direction will vary across the nation over the next few days, with prices actually expected to fall from recent peaks in Alberta and Quebec.

He says prices for regular gasoline in Toronto, Ottawa and most of the rest of Ontario are expected to rise by one cent per litre on Friday and another cent on Saturday, reaching an average of 140.9 cents per litre, the highest since June 29, 2014.

He says gas prices in New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador went up Thursday by more than two cents, Vancouver prices are expected to rise by a cent or two, and Manitoba and Saskatchewan, which had the cheapest gas prices in the country, are expected to see price increases of five to seven cents.

Quebec prices of about $1.48 per litre are expected to fall by as much as 10 cents over the weekend and Alberta prices of around $1.35 are to slump by about four cents due to local retail market pressures.

McTeague says Canadian gas stations follow prices set in the much larger fuel markets in the United States but are inflated by the current low value of the Canadian dollar compared to the American greenback.


We can’t live with this kind of uncertainty in Canada. We can’t build a major infrastructure project in Canada for what should be our prime asset. We are an energy producing country – we should recognize that fact and pull together as a nation and get it happening … It makes no sense whatsoever if the federal government cannot impose its will and legislate in every way to have an interprovincial pipeline built in the country. We simply have to get our act together on these matters because we’re becoming a laughing stock in the world.”

(Sidebar: but someone will make a clean sweep after the Kinder Morgan debacle.) 


During a recent meeting of the standing committee on finance, Conservative Finance Critic Pierre Poilievre asked Bill Morneau how much the carbon tax would cost Canadian families.

He asked if it would cost families over $500.

He asked it if would cost families over $1000.
He asked if it would cost families over $2000.

And every time, Morneau refused to answer.

At one point, Morneau even made the amazingly arrogant comment that asking how much the carbon tax will cost families is “the wrong question.”

Ethics commissioner launches an inquiry in Raj Grewal:

The federal ethics watchdog is opening a formal investigation into Liberal MP Raj Grewal after he invited an employer to attend receptions in India during the prime minister’s trip in February.

“I have determined that an inquiry under the (Conflict of Interest) Code is warranted,” Ethics Commissioner Mario Dion said in a “confidential” letter to NDP MP Charlie Angus on Thursday, obtained by the National Post. “I am commencing an inquiry and have so informed Mr. Grewal. Thank you for bringing this matter to my attention.” 

Angus made a formal complaint to Dion at the end of March, after it came to light that Grewal’s office had invited his current employer, to whom he provides “legal services,” to receptions in India attended by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, members of cabinet and senior government officials. The business relationship itself began after Grewal became an MP, and was disclosed with the ethics commissioner at the time.

This Raj Grewal:

One eyewitness says greeting the party-crashers, was Brampton, Ont., MP Raj Grewal and at least one of his assistants.

The eyewitness, who was near the front of the line and knows Grewal by sight, said the MP was arguing with an RCMP officer, who grew visibly upset as Grewal apparently insisted the men be let in.

There has been a great ruffling of feathers over Alberta United Conservative Leader Jason Kenney's frank and undeniable remarks about Justin and the depth of his intellect:

“I worked with dozens of MPs in Ottawa, including (opposition) critics who were thoughtful, intelligent, engaged people with whom I had a constructive relationship. He wasn’t one of them,” Kenney said Wednesday.

“(Trudeau) is a person that I worked with as a minister for three years who I got to know quite well as somebody who has difficulty with complex files, and I think (Trans Mountain) is a very complex issue.” ...

“I know Justin. He doesn’t have a clue what he’s doing. This guy is an empty trust-fund millionaire who has the political depth of a finger bowl,” he is quoted as saying.

“He can’t read a briefing note longer than a cocktail napkin, OK.”

So far, Kenney has been unapologetic in his insistence that Justin is wholly unserious and one hopes his stance remains unchanged not only because an ostensibly democratic nation should support the right to express praise or criticism of its elected officials but because Kenney's remarks are evident to anyone who has heard Justin speak.

One could go on and on about the lack of Justin's professional and political experience, the wealth he inherited, the many, many, many gaffes, his vanity (hat tip), his cowardly unwillingness to respond to his critics, his underhanded ways of hiding the truth from the public that pays for his socks and the meals he gets sent to his house, how he referred to another MP as a "piece of sh--", how he elbowed a female MP in the chest after telling someone else to "get the f---" out of his way, his insulting attitude toward former NDP leader, Tom Mulcair, his complete disdain for the province of Alberta, how he rudely answered an English language question in French, the crappy way he treated Yazidis, Iraqi Christians, veterans, pro-lifers, the Indian government, everyone else, his sympathies for regimes and terrorist groups, and his loss of cool when confronted on thorny topics.

It is not simply a mark of character but something learned. His father was also a contemptuous @$$hole.

Justin can pretend to take the high road all he wants but he really isn't fooling anyone anymore.

When will Canadians be bothered by the multi-tiered immigration process that allows people to enter the country illegally without penalty while others must follow the law? When lines at the airports become too long? :

This summer the government is planning to transfer border and customs agents from the Toronto area to Quebec processing facilities. The government expects as many as 400 people will cross illegally into Canada per day once the weather warms up.

Because of the reduced staffing count at places such as Pearson International Airport – the busiest airport in Canada – travelers could easily find themselves sitting on the tarmac waiting for customs backlogs to clear.

According to a memo obtained by The Globe & Mail, Air Canada is preparing announcements to be read over the public address system that explain they’re being instructed to wait on the tarmac. One pilot told the paper that the waits could be an hour or more.

Also - no, John, you can own this:

The mayor of Toronto says the city will need to open an emergency reception centre over the next seven days to deal with an influx of refugees.

John Tory says the federal and Ontario governments should take action to relieve the growing pressure refugee claimants are putting on the city’s shelter system.

He says 10 new refugee claimants are added to Toronto’s shelter system each day — 334 additional refugee claimants have arrived since he last appealed for help on April 26.

At the current rate of arrivals, Tory says Toronto projects that refugees will represent more than 50 per cent of the city’s shelter residents by November.

If "discovery math" was disallowed, teachers would have to actually learn math themselves before they taught it properly. Students would then realise how they are being ripped off both academically and economically:

Discovery-based learning is a method of teaching that applies to multiple areas of study. Discovery learning is usually applied in problem solving situations. Instead of being taught directly, students discover facts and relationships by themselves through problem-solving projects. Typically, students will use hands-on objects and visual aids to guide them along the process. Teacher involvement is minimal.

By learning on their own, advocates maintain, students retain more information.

Does it work? 

Discovery learning’s effectiveness is the subject of some disagreement.

According to a study conducted by the C.D. Howe Institute, there’s been a correlation linking declining math scores and the newly introduced curriculum.

“Between 2003 and 2012, all but two Canadian provinces showed statistically significant declines in the (Program of International Student Assessment) math scores,” the study reads.

More recently, Ontario’s latest standardized test results from the 2016-2017 year — conducted by the Education Quality and Accountability Office — show that only half of Grade 6 students met the provincial standard in math, unchanged from the previous year. In 2013, about 57 per cent of Grade 6 students met the standard. Among Grade 3 students, 62 per cent met the provincial standard in math.

The biggest criticism of discovery learning, however, is its top-down method. In the context of math in particular, this can be a frustrating method of learning for students, according to the C.D. Howe study. Without having memorized key concepts like times table memorization, students will often struggle tackling complex problems.


And now, Putin and his expensive bridge were upstaged by a cat:

President Vladimir Putin’s handlers had thought of nearly everything for the christening of a $4 billion bridge linking Russia to Crimea.

Dressed in blue jeans and ditching his tie, Putin jumped into the driver’s seat of an orange dump truck Tuesday and drove across the bridge with cameras recording every move.

One camera in the cab of the truck captured his small talk with a construction worker who was along for the ride and broadcast it across state media.

The imagery was deliberate: Putin was sealing his disputed 2014 annexation of Crimea with a project strongly condemned as illegal by the West. ...

But there was one hitch: Putin was actually beaten across the bridge.

Not by saboteurs or protesters or a stage-stealing, fate-sealing politician – but by the orange-and-white cat that roamed the bridge the day before.

Mostik, the adopted mascot of construction workers in the project, boasted to his nearly 35,000 Instagram followers Monday that he had already traversed the bridge, a full day before Putin’s first crossing.
The cat actually has a hard hat. A HARD HAT!

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